It was late in the afternoon because the sun was just barely beaming in through the windows and laying subtle streaks of light across the hardwood floors in our guest room. Down on my knees scooting along the baseboards, I was applying fresh white paint when I found myself at a point when it just all came out. All the hurt was right there ready to be vocalized because I was so tired of pretending as though everything was manageable, when it wasn’t.
“Lord, I can’t live like this. The sorrow is just too much for me to carry. I just feel such a heaviness in my heart and this sorrow isn’t Your best for me. This isn’t how You mean for me to live. Help me through this? Take away all this sorrow please?”
I cried it out, while at the same time I just kept painting and letting my prayer just rest right there in His care. I knew He was listening and caring, because that’s just who He is. He’s just a loving Father like that and I never doubt His love and attention. And the truth is, He cares so much that I knew it was Him who even prodded me to finally say what I had been feeling. He was the one who helped me to articulate what was going on in me. He placed in my mind and out of my mouth the word that described what I was feeling – sorrow. I hadn’t even thought of that word until down on my knees on a light blue bath mat. But, I just kept on painting and letting my prayer and my thoughts just “be” with Him.
But it wasn’t until the next day, when I woke up, poured my coffee and made my way to the loveseat in our family room to read that day’s bible reading. This particular morning, the text just happened to be John 16:19-22. And this is what I read:
“You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy,” John 16:20. Then I read, “So for now you are in grief; but I will see you again, and then you hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away from you your great joy,” John 16:22.
As soon as I read those verses, I thought of my prayer. (“Lord, I just told you yesterday that the sorrow was just too great.”) As I pondered on what those verses were saying, I realized that Jesus was telling the disciples that they may experience sorrow and are currently experiencing sorrow, but He assured them that it would all be turned into great joy – a joy that would not be taken away from them. And as I read that, I prayed … “Well, Lord, that verse is meant for me as well. There is to be this JOY that is so great, so certain, so permanent that You say no one will be or can be able to take it from me. So, why aren’t I feeling it? Why does that joy, even though I know it’s a present reality of my life because of the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit, why don’t I ‘feel’ that? Why does it seem as though my sorrow is overwhelming THAT joy that You say couldn’t be removed?”
I just presented the question.
That was all.
And then I just let the quiet of the morning seem to let it all settle in to a place of trust between me and Him.
I wasn’t demanding an answer or starting to search for anything … instead I knew He was listening and taking my prayer completely to heart. How did I know this? Because He was answering my prayer, from just the day before, through His Word right in that moment. When you read the Bible and see verses that speak directly to a prayer you’ve prayed, take note … that is the voice of the Lord. That is the voice of God speaking to you through His Word. Rest in it, while at the time time, take notice. He is drawing near to you because through your prayer, you had drawn near to Him.
The next day, there it was again in John 16:23-33 specifically in verse 33:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
…but this time this Scripture was telling me two things:
1) my inheritance as a child of God, (perfect peace) and
2) how to conduct myself in the throws of sorrow
He said, “…in Me you may have perfect peace.” That means, my inheritance is “perfect peace.” (I stopped right there and prayed, “Father, it says here that in Jesus I have peace, and not just peace, but PERFECT peace.” And I began thinking this way –
I had been given the title deed to living in perfect peace through the gift of salvation. Perfect peace was mine. I had it. I had been given it through the gift of grace the moment I placed my faith in Jesus Christ. But then it went on to say that I will experience hardships, sorrow, distress, suffering… and after the word ‘suffering’, He tells me how to conduct myself — I am to be courageous. Confident. Undaunted and, here we go, …
FILLED WITH JOY!
So, let’s go back just a few days to those baseboards, ok? There I am on my knees, feeling so overcome by things that had happened in my life. So, I prayed out loud as I felt the weight of sorrow from lies, gossip, accusations, having been hurt, broken trust, and simply feeling unwanted, shunned, and just not necessary.
But then came the very next Friday morning —
I was sitting again on the loveseat and as I prayed, these words came to my mind,
“A Man of Sorrows.”
What? Wait! I know those words! I know that phrase! Why did that just pop in my mind and where is that in Scripture? I asked, “Lord, where do I go to find those words about Yourself?”
Isaiah 53 – that reference instantly came to my mind. THAT again is the voice of the Lord. The work of the Holy Spirit is to counsel. He reveals truth. Ask and you will receive. And He simply surfaced into my mind words from the pages of Scripture, so that I would go there. He told me right where to go….
And this is what I read:
He was despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief;
And like One from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.
But [in fact] He has borne our griefs,
And He has carried our sorrows and pains;
Yet we [ignorantly] assumed that He was stricken,
Struck down by God and degraded and humiliated [by Him].
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing];
The punishment [required] for our well-being fellon Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.
I saw it! What He had been getting me to aaaalll week long as I read in John 16.
It was like He was saying, “Sorrow is overpowering what is actually yours … peace, joy, courage, confidence, victory. You are giving sorrow, (the impact of sin done to you), way too much presence, power and influence in your life.”
But when He took me to Isaiah 53, He was showing me what REALLY happened that day on the Cross. What Jesus did that was so much more than I had ever known.
Jesus not only took the sins of the world to the Cross, which I can’t imagine!! But when you see in Isaiah 53, words like “sorrows, griefs, pain, wounds” you are seeing words that describe the impact of sin. Sins effect on us.
You see, if you were to write on a 3×5 card the actions you have done where you sinned against someone else – you lied to them or about them; you demonstrated jealousy toward them; you broke their trust in you through betrayal: you plotted against them: you lost your temper toward them: … all of that is considered sin. Jesus took those sins to the Cross, yes, but that’s not all. If you were to flip that card over and write the IMPACT of your sins, you would write: I hurt them. I caused them to fear. I brought them grief. I caused them to feel physical or emotional pain. I caused them to be afraid. I brought them to a place of sorrow – then those are the impacts of the sin. The truth about sin is that our sin always impacts lives. And the opposite is true as well – when someone sins against you and against me, their sin impacts our life. We feel the full impact of their sin in the form of grief, sorrow, suffering, pains, and wounds. Very real wounds.
What the Lord was showing me in Isaiah 53 was this — when I told him that day while painting baseboards that I couldn’t carry this sorrow, that it was just too much for me to carry, He was showing me that Jesus already did! Jesus, a Man of Sorrows (and the word sorrow literally means what is felt due to the impact (effect) of sin), carried my hurt, my pain, my griefs, my suffering and yes, my sorrow. He took all those wounds from other people’s sins and He carried them. He borne our griefs! He carried our sorrow.
Let’s read it ..
Isaiah 53:4 says, “He has carried our sorrows and pains;”
Carried them where?
To The Cross.
Jesus carried your sorrows and mine to the Cross. And they were nailed there. They were also buried with Him in the tomb. So when He rose again in 3 days, it was finished! Sin and all its impact – all its sorrows, pains, wounds…done! It was all overcome!
Our sorrow does NOT need to be carried squarely on our own shoulders…they were placed squarely on His that day! And He choose to carry the impact of sin so that you and I do not have to.
Can you see the depth of Love that He has for you? He didn’t want your sin to separate you from the Father, and He didn’t want the wounds of sin to separate you from living the joyful peaceful and confident life He had always wanted for you!
That doesn’t mean we won’t ever feel the sorrows and hurts of sin. The impact of sin always brings grief, sorrow, and suffering. But what Isaiah 53:3-5 is telling us is that the Father never intended for us to walk around on this earth, in relationship with Him, carrying the weight of sins impact – sorrow. We share in the power of the Cross as we live by faith:
“I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
When I read those words, “He has carried our sorrows,” I realized …
Jesus died carrying my sorrow to the Cross, so that I didn’t have to carry it any longer.
That morning on the loveseat, it was time for the Lord to let me see even more fully the work of His Son on that Cross. So now, when that sorrow tries to creep back into my mind or emotions, I can simply smile, worship and pray,
“Jesus, thank You for taking my sins and my sorrow to the Cross because by Your wounds, I am healed!”
He validated my sorrow that morning on the loveseat. He didn’t tell me it wasn’t justified; He knew it was. And everything I read in Scripture, under the leading of the Spirit, comforted me to know that He believed me. His Word simply told me where sorrow belonged … and it didn’t belong in me! A Man of Sorrows took, not only our sin, but the impact of sins committed against us, to the Cross and there is where it all was defeated! There is where we find Victory!
So, when it comes to your sorrows, thank Jesus for …
The Power of the Cross!